Twenty Essex is 'still considered the leading set for commodities matters'. Members have extensive experience in private international law and frequently represent major commodities trading houses in high-value disputes. Their work is closely tied to the set's prominence in shipping and insurance matters. Co-head of chambers Duncan Matthews QC has more than 30 years' experience in shipping and commodities matters and he recently led prominent junior Susannah Jones in a successful $32m claim by Natixis against commodities broker and trader Marex for breach of a conditional repo agreement in relation to a metal spot purchase contract. Experienced silk Timothy Young QC and new 2020 silks Henry Byam Cook QC and Phillip Riches QC are among the set's other stars. The clerks are well led by Arron Zitver, whose 23 years' experience in instructions in the shipping, commodities and insurance sectors.
Commodities in London Bar
7 King's Bench Walk is 'a market leader in this area and has great strength in depth', according to one client. 'It has experts in commodities plus expertise in insurance and shipping, which strengthens its involvement in commodities disputes', says another. Members are skilled in all aspects of the trade of goods, including cargo damage and theft, bill of lading fraud, and breach of obligations under contracts of international sale and purchase. Robert Bright QC has a stellar reputation in the commodities arena and he recently led outstanding junior Sandra Healy in Septo v Tintrad, an $11m dispute concerning the supply of contaminated and off-spec fuel oil. Peter MacDonald Eggers QC, Jessica Sutherland, and the 'unfailing responsive' Clara Benn are among the set's highly respected practitioners. 'The clerks are, without exception, outstanding and absolutely committed to providing a first-class service'.
Quadrant Chambers is 'a very commercial set and has an increasing status and presence in the commodities and shipping markets' and is considered by some to be 'at the top of the list for international trade disputes, including those concerning commodities'. The set frequently acts for major commodities trading houses in matters relating to the full range of hard and soft commodities and the carriage thereof. Simon Rainey QC is 'at the very top of the league' and he recently led promising junior Ben Gardner in a dispute relating to the performance of a 25-year contract for the supply of LNG worth $350m. Yash Kulkarni QC, who took silk in 2018, and new 2020 silk Stewart Buckingham QC are among the set's other outstanding practitioners. Clients praise the 'excellent and prompt service' from the clerks who are 'responsive and friendly – nothing is too much trouble'.
Essex Court Chambers is 'very user-friendly' and clients note that 'you can always find the suitable barrister and there are juniors who are very intelligent and easy to work with'. The set has a long history in the shipping and commodities arena and continues to be involved in high-value arbitrations. Graham Dunning QC has 35 years' experience in shipping and commodities matters and his recent work includes high-value fraud matters relating to the storage of metal. Nigel Eaton QC recently handled high-value matters relating to coal, mining and energy. Prominent junior David Walsh acted for BMCE Bank International in a two-week trial concerning a cargo of steel billets that went missing in Nigeria. 'You cannot fault the clerks room', notes one source who praises senior clerk Joe Ferrigno.
36 Stone, which is part of The 36 Group, is a dedicated commodities, shipping and international trade set that is 'down to earth, effective and reliable'. Members have extensive experience in contractual matters including bills of lading, charterparties, contracts of affreightment and commodities issues arising in the context of shipping. Joint head of chambers Vasanti Selvaratnam QC is known for her commercial and practical approach and she represented a Malaysian Bank in relation to a letter of credit dispute raising issues of whether documents in a commodity transaction were presented timeously. Ravi Aswani, who is frequently engaged to handle both the physical and paper elements of commodities transactions and has experience in matters before specialist trade bodies including GAFTA and FOSFA, and Charles Debattista, who has more than 40 years' experience, are among the set's greatly respected juniors. Clients note that the clerks are 'always ready and always quick in responding'.